Kilauea volcano forms the eastern part of the island of Hawaii`i. Its main features include a summit caldera and two radial rift zones. The current eruption is taking place within a summit crater called Halema`uma`u.
A sketch map of Kilauea volcano and major roads.
Kilauea is a basaltic shield volcano, which means it erupts primarily a highly fluid magma known as "basalt." The high fluidity of basaltic magma is due to a low silicate content. In contrast, non-basaltic volcanoes, such as, Mount St. Helens, erupt a viscous magma that that is high in silicate content that that typically produce violent, explosive eruptions.
Nighttime view of an active lava flow
The highly fluid lava can also produce lava lakes that persist for decades. Two lava lakes are currently active at Kilauea volcano: one in the summit crater of Halema`uma`u and the other near the cone of Pu`u O`o.
Kilauea often erupts high lava fountains, a direct consequence of the gas-charged, highly fluid, low silicate content of the molten lava.
The highly fluid lava of Kilauea can flow long distances and produce long lava flows.
The red glow of the lava lake at Halema`uma`u offers a remarkable contrast to the nighttime sky.